The Fairy Prom Mother has come to Albuquerque.
The project helps students who cannot afford formal wear for homecoming, winter formal or prom get the dress or suit of their dreams.
Lena Pacheco, founder of the project, said her makeshift boutique was well received in Denver, where she started it in May 2021. It includes formal dresses, suits, shape wear and shoes.
Pacheco said she just moved back to Albuquerque but wanted to introduce herself to local high schools in hopes of developing a relationship to get students what they need for their formals.
Her stock of more than 1,000 items in all sizes of new and slightly used designer gowns were mostly donated by a Denver local bridal shop called the Bridal Collection, and Kim Kardashian’s company SKIMS heard about the project and donated more than 2,000 pieces of shape wear. Additionally, Ridwell Recycling hosted a drive that brought in more than 1,000 dresses and suits. The stock will be shipped here in October, Pacheco said, and students in need can start signing up for an appointment via her website.
Pacheco hopes to get fully up and running with a location where youth can come and try out formal wear by March, just in time for prom season, but students can reach out as early as this fall. She also hopes to start pop-up boutiques in connection with Albuquerque public schools.
It is required that students attend an Albuquerque metro high school and are either low income or foreign exchange students (receiving EBT, Medicaid, housing vouchers, as well as free or reduced lunches).
Pacheco said she started the program because she knows what it’s like for parents that shouldn’t have to worry about giving their children the full high school experience or paying the bills.
“As a single mother, I know the struggle it is to try to get formal wear for these events,” she said. “And so many parents had been laid off on top of kids just now starting to be reintroduced into prom and things like that, so I wanted to continue providing this service here.”
Pacheco said it truly is a rewarding process because patrons are treated with a kind of Cinderella experience, while being given ample time to try on formal wear to give the perfect fit in what was once her basement turned formal boutique, with a large selection to choose from. She said it makes kids tremendously happy, even sometimes bringing them to tears, knowing they get to go to formal events they might otherwise miss out on without the Fairy Prom Mother project.
After tickets, transportation and dinner, high school formal events can be costly to families in need, and with many families still struggling with the continued fallout of the pandemic and inflation costs, Pacheco said she felt there was need for her program now more than ever.
She said last year so many people in the community wanted to be a part of the project, from nail and beauty students to photographers, she put together a prom contest giveaway.
“We picked three girls, and they got the whole workup where the photographer came to their house, they took pictures of them in their dress and they got their hair and nails done,” and said she hopes to do something similar here, too.
She does ask for a small suggested $20 donation, though it is not mandatory, to help Pacheco with the cost of storing the large inventory of formal wear as well as dry cleaning costs for garments that need it.
“I understand, $20 is a struggle when you’re thinking about gas and food and you know everything these days is so expensive, so if a family is not able to donate, then they’re certainly not going to get turned away,” she clarified.
Students get to keep what items they choose and so far, the Fairy Prom Mother has helped 384 teens and aims to help many more here in Albuquerque.
For more information, click the link here.